This is not one of those posts where I lament the challenges of being a military family or where I shake an angry fist at Uncle Sam for keeping me a bazillion miles away from my family at Christmas, no siree. This post is all about how our military travels have opened us up to new and exciting Christmas traditions from around the world.
One of the coolest things about being part of a military family is that you get the rare opportunity to see, first hand, how other countries and cultures celebrate life through their holiday traditions.
I grew up celebrating Noche Buena a la Puerto Rican style and hubby grew up celebrating Christmas good ole American style, so we already have quite an interesting blend between the two of us.
We celebrate a hardcore Noche Buena on Christmas Eve, full of food, dancing, food, music, food, dominoes, food, and coquito (think of it as Puerto Rican egg nog).
And we celebrate a fun filled Christmas morning with opening presents and brunching on morning goodies, playing with new toys, and wearing our annual set of Christmas pajamas.
As we’ve traveled, we picked up some new traditions that are just as near and dear to our heart as the ones we grew up with. Here’s are some of the new traditions we’ve incorporated into our Christmas celebrations:
Christmas Traditions from Germany
St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6)
Both hubby and I spent a few years in Germany as kiddos. We adopted the St. Nicholas Day tradition where children place their shoes outside on the eve of St. Nicholas Day and wake the next morning to find goodies (or coal or switches) in their shoes.
Neat fact? St. Nicholas Day’s shoe tradition is the foundation for our Christmas stocking tradition!
We count down the days until Christmas with a chocolate filed Advent calendar. You can find them at almost any grocery store, but we love that our local Commissary gets in authentic German Advent calendars. And yes, the chocolate tastes so much better!
As I type this, I realize that we’re 5 days behind on the girls’ chocolate filled calendars…they’re going to be so excited tonight.
Christmas Traditions from the United Kingdom
Christmas Movie: Love Actually
Love Actually became a Christmas movie tradition during our first duty assignment at RAF Lakenheath. It’s just not Christmas until we hear Billy Mack’s rendition of Christmas Is All Around
Christmas crackers are neat little bundles you put out during Christmas dinner that contain party favors. They traditionally include a crown, small prezzie, and a corny joke to share. They’re a lot of fun and the kids get a kick out of them!
Fun fact: Christmas crackers have been an English tradition since the 1800s.
Christmas cracker image by net_efekt on Flickr.
Okay so we don’t really do much with this one other than call December 26th Boxing Day, but it sounds a lot more exciting than saying December 26th!
Just in case you’re curious…Boxing Day originated as the day where servants and other tradespeople received gifts from their superiors or employers.
What holiday traditions has your family picked up from your travels?
How have you incorporated them into your own celebrations at home?
Share your stories below!
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